Trees Can Ruin Roofs and Crush Walls
Current conditions are conspiring to brew up the perfect storm for a mature tree in central Texas. As March and April rains have marched across the state, many residents are calling the water a blessing. The long and historic drought left many people wondering if their favorite tree would survive the heat and lack of moisture. Unfortunately, these rains are more of a double-edged sword. They can revitalize and save oaks and other trees that can’t survive with such little water, but they can also push too far over the edge and cause a crash.
Weakened Roots? Your Tree Could Fall on Your Home or Auto
Mature roots serve as anchors, in addition to drawing in nutrients, and water. When drought leaves the soil completely dry down to the three-foot mark, even the hardiest trees will wither and dry up. Dry soil causes delicate feeder roots to crumble first and then saps the strength of the supporting roots. A drawn out drought will leave the anchor system compromised. As the first rains of spring soak the soil, the sudden softness of the previously hard packed ground causes loosening around these weakened roots. It’s very easy for a top heavy tree to go down when high levels of water follow such an extended drought.
Watch Out for These Signs of Stress
It’s important to check your mature limbs at least once a week for common and early signs of overt damage. When stress hits, you may need to provide extra care to prevent permanent damage. The Colorado State University Cooperative Extension recommends that you look for signs such as these below:
- Odd colors like purple or red developing in evergreen or deciduous leaves
- Browning at the leaf or needle tips
- Curling leaves
- Extremely late bud and leaf development in the spring
- A large number of dead branches, especially scattered evenly throughout the crown
- Small and misshapen leaves that don’t develop correctly as spring turns to summer
- Dead or rotting surface roots
- Noticeably angled tilting trees
- Loss of bark on major limbs or trunk
Trees showing these signs of stress require the help of a professional arborist. If they still look healthy, keep them that way by monitoring moisture levels in the soil. Keeping moisture consistent as the rains come and go will ensure the tree can resist stress and stay healthy, even if drought returns this summer.
High Winds and Other Weather Related Issues
It’s not just the drought that makes storm season difficult for trees in central Texas. As the temperatures rise, gentle spring showers turn into rough summer storms that come with high winds and lightening. Wind gusts can break off limbs and send them tumbling towards your house, or they may push over the entire tree if it is under enough root stress. Hail also breaks off branches and limbs that are brittle from a lack of moisture. When the storms are rolling through, check your mature trees at least once a day to ensure they aren’t showing any signs of damage or stress. You may need emergency tree services if one starts to show signs of leaning after a particularly strong storm.
photo credit: Jukka Vuokko via photopin cc